Small Business Spotlight of the Week: NeverLabs Amanda | May 16th, 2011
One of the biggest criticisms social media faces is that it cuts off users from the real world and creates a false, virtual world of interactions. This view seems especially true if you’re my 50-year-old, slowly-starting-to-turn-crotchety father.
But, social media platforms provide a unique opportunity to create easy connections between people that otherwise might not have found each other. Realizing this, NeverLabs was born.
NeverLabs aims to create a web platform that unites people in a similar location and with similar interests… but in the real world. For instance, if a person located to a new city and wanted to meet some buds to hang out with, NeverLabs would pull information from existing Facebook profiles and Twitter handles to find people to connect with. This platform will focus on cities, towns and even smaller locales. It’s the perfect answer to that old, stodgy social media criticism.
The gang over at NeverLabs took some time off from developing a new internet sensation and answered some questions I had:
How would you explain what you do to somebody’s grandmother?
Very slowly, using simple language, and probably with a lot of hand gestures! All kidding aside, though? What we’re doing is way more intuitive than it is complicated. We take the tools and platforms that so many of their grandkids are already using (like mobile devices, Facebook and Twitter), and build ways for people to meet up in the real world based on location, interest, and availability. Or, in other words, we’re fostering relationships in real life by making the Facebooks and Twitters of the world the pathway, instead of the destination.
What are some industry specific challenges you faced?
“Technology” – name for us another industry which just so happens to ALSO be a challenge and we’ll give you a dollar! You gotta love it though, the fast-pace and knowing that what we’re building today is merely the cutting edge of what we’ll be working on 12 months from now is, simultaneously, an enormous challenge and incredibly encouraging to restless minds like ours.
What made you use crowdSPRING?
We’re a small shop today, but when you have plans for world domination like we do, it pays to learn some lessons from the biggest brands in the world. One of those lessons is that if we can’t do a world-leading job at any particular component of our business, we’ll outsource it to those who can. And crowdSPRING gave us immediate access to what seems like limitless artistic talent from around the globe to help us craft our brand’s logo – which we think rocks, by the way.
What was your biggest learning curve/experience?
Well, we’re still working instead of donating millions of dollars to charitable foundations while sailing around the world on 100-foot yachts, so something tells us we haven’t experienced it yet. But, slightly short of that? It was the moment we decided to leverage the technology platforms as the means to ends in the real world instead of trying to keep people captive in the “virtual” world. We tied together the reality that, even though technology is penetrating deeper and deeper into our daily lives, it can still serve to help us remain connected here in the real world.
What’s the craziest story you have from starting your own business?
Does leaving our six-figure salaries behind to start a new, unproven company with no customers, based on nothing but hope, confidence, and trust in each other count? If that qualifies, run with it.
If you could go back, would you do anything differently? If so, what and why?
Sure! We probably wouldn’t make so many mistakes for others to learn from. But we won’t be publishing those just yet… Here’s one we can share though: when we were first starting out, it was hard for us to settle on just one “brilliant” idea among many. It took us a few months to grasp that we really couldn’t accomplish everything in parallel. Looking back, that’s wasted time, opportunity, and money, too! So we’d swallow our egos a little earlier if we had it to do all over again.
How do you see your company growing in the future?
The term “exponentially” comes to mind. Which, frankly, wouldn’t be too difficult given our size at the moment. Or, if the right capitalization opportunity comes along, we’d probably go with “immediately.” Either way, we see enormous growth potential for NeverLabs because we’re not creating anything from whole cloth, but instead monetizing the free platforms enjoyed by hundreds of millions of worldwide users every day. And every new platform that gets adopted by the market-at-large represents another avenue for our growth.
Six words of advice to those looking to start their own company.
Avoid and learn from others’ mistakes!